Madison Reed

Financial Times Focuses on Women Winning Venture Backing

by Michelle Lemire {{"2014-09-23T14:38:57-07:00" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

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Female start-up founders may be a minority, but they’re a strong minority with a bright future on the horizon. Among them is Amy Errett, co-founder and CEO of our own Madison Reed, who was interviewed for a feature in the Financial Times.

“Not to be flippant but most VCs want to back the founder who knows something about the product,” says Amy Errett, a VC-turned-hair-dye-entrepreneur. Ms Errett says she got inspiration for her company, Madison Reed, in the hair colouring aisle at a pharmacy and noting how poorly designed the kits were.

Her company is experimenting with how it uses technology to sell hair dye to women for use at home. The start-up, which raised $12m in venture backing this year, sells mostly to women who want to mask greying hair. In her mid-50s, she matches her short dyed blonde hair with chunky, colourful glasses.

Although investment in companies set up by women has increased, raising funds from mostly male investors, particularly for brands aimed mainly at female consumers, has its frustrations. At worst, they may even face harassment or inappropriate propositions.

More commonly, however, the issue is that male investors “often feel they can’t add value to the business because they don’t have expertise in the space as a consumer”, says Doreen Bloch, founder of Poshly, a consumer data analytics company specialising in cosmetics.

Ms Errett says some of the investors she pitched to confessed both that they dyed their hair, and were unsure how widely hair dye is used by middle-aged women.

A former senior manager at online brokerage E*Trade and general partner at venture firm Maveron, she has had to explain to sceptical colleagues and friends that she had chosen to tackle what they saw as a humble niche with far less growth prospects than other sectors also taking off in Silicon Valley. “Everyone was like, ‘hair colouring’?” says Ms Errett, recalling their disdain.”

Read the whole story on The Financial Times site.